Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Cedar Waxwing Not Welcome in Louisiana's Strawberry Fields

Tormented by strawberry-pilfering cedar waxwings, Louisiana berry farmers are dealing with the federally protected birds the only way they know how, with guns

With warm weather predicted for the next few days leading up to peak strawberry season and the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival set for Friday through Sunday, farmers in Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes said the only challenge left is to keep the berries out of the birds' bellies.
One farmer, who planted about 17 acres, said his crew cleared Wal-Mart's stock of shotgun shells last week, as prime picking time got under way.

Unfortunately for that farmer and his strawberries, cedar waxwings are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Anyone caught shooting them could face up to six months in jail and a fine up to $15,000 for the misdemeanor, said Philip Siragusa, special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lafayette.

Cedar waxwings pose an annual threat, traveling the South in flocks in search of fleshy berries. But many growers said the feathered fruit eaters have stuck around longer than normal this winter.

More From The Times-Picayune
LIsten to the story on NPR

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